With the recent sale of two workboats to Marine Harvest Scotland, Dutch Nauplius Workboats has positioned itself among the aquaculture shipbuilding companies.
Gerrit Knol and Jaap van den Hul-Kuijten, owners of Nauplius Workboats, started their company in 2013, originating from Argos Engineering, the naval architecture and marine engineering company they have been operating since 2006.
Argos Engineering designs small workboats, used as hydrographic survey vessels, mega-yachts and passenger ships.
“We offer design and engineering, cooperating with clients and, if necessary, other engineering- and design specialists,” says Gerrit Knol.
He believes that clients’ operational requirements, as well as legislation, determines design.
“Both Argos Engineering and Nauplius Workboats implement the most recent regulations in the ships’ design, in close consultation with legislators.”
The two entrepreneurs moved into aquaculture, after they came into contact with Marine Harvest Scotland through Dutch workboat company Acta Marine.
“Founding Nauplius Workboats enabled us to add shipbuilding to our design portfolio,” says Knol.
“We had been cooperating with Acta Marine in several projects. In 2013 Marine Harvest Scotland awarded its first bareboat charter to Acta Marine. One of the vessels had to be converted for the aquaculture industry, which was executed by Marine Cluster Friesland, also from the Netherlands. We were invited to be part of the brainstorm process, particularly with regard to adapting existing vessels with different lay-outs. As a result, we started to work seriously on a number of concepts for Marine Harvest, which eventually led to the development of our 1507 utility vessel.”
“We have built two site boats for Marine Harvest Scotland so far,” he continues, “with net control equipment, used for daily operations at Marine Harvest sites at the Scottish Outer Isles. The boats are seaworthy for distances up to 60 miles off the coast, which is necessary for transport between the three Marine Harvest farms.”
With the recent order of the two 1907 Landing Utility Vessels the cooperation between Nauplius Workboats and Marine Harvest Scotland continues to expand.
Maintenance supports design
Nauplius Workboats has since been expanding their aquaculture network with companies like Scottish Seafarms Orkney. Gerrit Knol frequently travels to Scotland.
“Travelling with a mechanic enables me to stay informed about what is going on with our vessels and also to improve our designs and engineering for new vessels. I talk to the fish farmers, who show me what they do and how they do it. All our recent improvements are based on practical information.”
Growing up on a boat, Knol has always been hands on.
“My father is an inland waterway skipper. When I was a boy I helped out on my father’s ship. Our staff members have the same capacity; they can sketch and also help build in a machinery room.”
Local suppliers for spare parts are essential, Knol explains.
“It is of the utmost importance that spares are available in Scotland. All the farms are in remote places, so it’s very difficult to get things there. If production stops for a week due to technical problems, that results in a huge mortality rate. That has to be avoided at all times. That’s why we always look for partnerships in other countries, as a service to our customers. If necessary, we’ll take a plane to deliver the spare parts ourselves.”
Last year, Nauplius built a 25 meter hydrolicer barge for Marine Harvest.
“We built in all of the technical facilities beforehand. The hydrolicer equipment was installed at the Scottish shipyard.”
Current projects were built in the Netherlands.
“Flexibility is the basis of our concepts. Our vessels can be build at any wharf, in any part of the world. We are now talking to potential clients in Norway, Canada and Australia. Demand for our concepts is really growing at the moment.”
Due to the flexible work strategy of Nauplius Workboats, there is no real competition, says Knol.
“We are able to work together with everyone. We strongly believe in cooperation, based on each partner’s strengths. Eventually, that’s best for the client.”
Apart from Brexit challenges, the two entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future.
“The market keeps changing, and we have to change with it. There is always another new development, for example, freshwater delicing. We design our boats based on what is needed, and around that need, we develop a workboat, with all kinds of multi-purpose solutions. We strongly believe the aquaculture sector doesn’t need standard vessels, but rather custom-built solutions, developed in close cooperation with the client. For us that’s the best way to do it, and that’s why we think our company will continue to get stronger.”
New assignment for MH Scotland
In December 2017 Nauplius Workboats announced the sale of two landing utility vessels to Marine Harvest Scotland. The two vessels have a work deck in front, allowing more space to maintenance tasks at the pens. This also increases the available square meters of workspace, providing space for two cranes. The vessels are a crossover between a regular offshore work vessel like a Multi-Cat, and a landing craft. The two vessels will be delivered to their new owner in June and August.